Why Knowing When to Outsource Is Essential for Your Success as a Digital Entrepreneur

Why Knowing When to Outsource Is Essential for Your Success as a Digital Entrepreneur

*** Contributed Post

The digital age has brought with it an unprecedented number of ways to make it as an entrepreneur, not to mention a virtually limitless number of fields that an entrepreneurially minded person can choose to specialise in.

Of course, the other side of that coin is that the digital age has also brought with it a large number of ways to make unfortunate business mistakes and hamper your professional progress via your own inability to effectively handle and adapt to the nuances of your field.

While some of these issue and stumbling blocks are, indeed, rooted in the internet and digital technologies themselves, a good number of others are simply the result of timeless mishaps that have dogged entrepreneurs and small business owners for just about as long as people have been working and earning money.

Image via Pixabay

One of the classic blunders that afflict many entrepreneurs — digital and otherwise — is an inability to outsource, or the overwhelming desire to micro-manage every aspect of the business to the point where any other team or staff members are essentially left unable to do their job.

As it so happens, learning to outsource effectively might be even more essential for digital entrepreneurs as for others. So, if you notice a tendency in yourself to try and “do it all yourself” to the detriment of your business, consider hiring a company like Scarlett Group to take care of IT and other branches of your business, so that you can focus on your core competencies.

Here are some reasons why knowing when to outsource is essential for your success as a digital entrepreneur.

The business world is more complex today than ever before

One undeniable feature of the hyper-connected digital world which we all currently inhabit, is that things are simply more complicated than they’ve ever been before, across a wide variety of measures.

Whereas it was once the case that virtually every job was constrained by certain practicalities, borders, and technologies, virtually everything is up in the air now in this age of never-ending innovation, lightning-fast global communication, and the endless flow of information that characterises 21st Century living.

If you don’t police your productivity and your attention ruthlessly, you could spend all day, every day, fruitlessly trying to identify and apply different business strategies, new technologies, and so on.

Likewise, if you run a moderately successful business of almost any type, you could easily spread yourself far too thin by going above and beyond the call of duty in order to act as a fully-fledged team, all by yourself, while seeking to perform all the increasingly nuanced and specialised roles of a full team, all with the time and likely energy levels of any other normal person.

To put it simply, the digital age has made the business world more complex than ever before. It’s absolutely essential for any entrepreneur who wants to be successful, to know how best to spend their time in any given moment, while also having a good understanding of where their time is only wasted.

Outsourcing can be the key to ensuring that you don’t get swamped trying to do an endless number of jobs that you’re not specialised for.

You only have as much time in the day as anyone else

Tied in to the point above, is the clear and evident fact that you simply don’t have an endless amount of time. In fact, it’s one of those weird and wonderful facts of life that every single person who lives today, and who has ever lived, and who ever will live — the most ludicrously productive, and the laziest and most prone to procrastination alike — all have the exact same number of hours, minutes, and seconds in a day.

It may seem bizarre at first glance to think that you have just as much of this vital resource as someone like Richard Branson or Warren Buffet, but there’s something empowering in this fundamental understanding, too.

That is, it’s empowering if you understand the fundamental lesson of this. Which is that you need to treat your time as the most valuable and essential resource you could ever possess, and then you’ll be able to appropriately handle it, by doing the most essential thing you can with each moment you have available.

This is pretty much the same as saying that you really need to learn to outsource and defer tasks to others as and when it’s appropriate and expedient to do so.

If you waste this vital resource on tasks that are not very important, or that you’re not very good at, while neglecting those tasks that really need your attention, you’re setting yourself up for a disastrous failure down the line.

Other people can do things that you can’t

This point should be self-evident, but a large part of the reason why many entrepreneurs try to do it all themselves, is often that they’ve convinced themselves that no one else can do anything for their business quite as well, and with quite as much attention to detail, as they can.

While it’s certainly likely to be the case that no one will be as invested in your business as you are, it’s a complete fallacy to think that no one could do a better job in handling a particular aspect of your job than you can.

It’s highly unlikely that you will be a brilliant administrator, an excellent marketer, a superb IT specialist, a product development pro, a logistics maestro, and be otherwise proficient to a high degree in everything that goes into running a successful business.

If you put your ego and paranoia aside and are willing to explore outsourcing as a feasible option for various “departments” of your business, you can benefit greatly from the expertise of people who have developed their careers around becoming proficient in one or two specific areas, which in all likelihood are going to be different from the areas in which you’re proficient — no matter how much of a renaissance man, or woman, you might be.

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How To Beat Entrepreneurial Burnout!

How To Beat Entrepreneurial Burnout!

Quick question for you,

How many hours did you work last week?

This includes hours spent working on your business AND/OR hours spent at your day job.

Was it more than 30?

40?

50…?

As an entrepreneur, it can feel like you need to be pulling 12 hour days to keep your business afloat and see it to success. No more clocking in and clocking out. As a business owner, you may feel like you are ALWAYS on the clock.

The problem is, when you are pulling 12+ hour days, you are bound to hit exhaustion at some point. And if you keep pushing you are going to become completely burned out.

Some common signs that you are going to or have already hit “burnout” include:

Dramatic/impulsive lifestyle changes (stop working out, start eating out all the time, drinking more than usual, ending a relationship suddenly, moving)

Difficulty in relationships (not feeling social, snapping at your partner, feeling like a bad mom/wife/girlfriend/daughter/friend)

Chronic overthinking/worry (inability to focus on the present, head always somewhere else, overthinking every situation)

Health decline (unhealthy eating, frequent illness, new or worsening medical conditions, chronic fatigue)

Cynicism (chronic negativity, poor mood)

Do you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself? Don’t worry- acknowledging you are experiencing burnout is the first step to turning things around and pointing yourself in a better direction!

If you’re a “push through the pain” kind of person you may be tempted to keep going at 100 miles per hour. But even if you feel like you are getting a lot done, research has found this is NOT the case. Lack of sleep, overworking, and failing to take care of yourself will result in POOR quality of work that will hurt you AND your business in the long run.

Think of it this way…if you were sawing down a tree in a forest, it would actually take you much longer to do it if you never took the time to sharpen the saw, versus if you took regular breaks to sharpen your equipment.

Sometimes, slowing down is IN YOU FAVOR and in the favor of your business!

Here are some tips for beating entrepreneurial burnout:

**Turn down clients that aren’t right for your business. This may seem completely counter-intuitive, but some clients just aren’t right for you. Either they don’t pay you enough for the time you invest in them, they aren’t reliable with fulfilling invoices, or they simply are not the type of client you want to work with.

**Outsource, outsource, outsource! You can either spend your time or your money! There are areas you should be spending your time on, and others that you would be better off spending your money and outsourcing. I imagine a huge reason you chose an entrepreneurial lifestyle was for time, freedom and flexibility. Well, if you’re spending 5 hours a day doing things that you could pay someone to do in 1 hour…you’re not getting time and freedom! Some people hesitate to outsource because their budget is tight. There are ways around this. You might consider finding students that are willing to work for experience, or other business owners you can trade with. There are always options.

**Create processes and systems that make you more efficient. What is taking up the most of your time? What could you do more effectively? Is there anything you can automate? Are you multitasking and being less effective versus focusing on one thing at a time? Your time is a valuable resource- treat it so!

**Take a vacation that is electronic-free (as much as possible). Go on a vacation! Even a short one. And have a no-electronics rule as much as possible. Get out of your head, breath, spend focused time with those that matter to you and remember why you do what you do.

If you truly take these techniques to heart, you can dramatically reduce the number of hours you spend working while also increasing your efficiency. You will be able to take weekends and holidays, you will be able to spend valuable (and uninterrupted) time with your loved ones, and you will avoid burnout.

If you need help automating systems in your business, I would love to help! Let’s chat and see what I can take off your shoulders, so you can spend more time in your passion zone!

Sign up for a 20 minute consult with me HERE.

Have an awesome week,

Robyn Bennett

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25 Questions you need to ask a potential VA first!

25 Questions you need to ask a potential VA first!

In my previous blog post, I mentioned making a list of potential VAs that you’d like to interview.

Now you’re going to put that list into effect and start using it to make your notes when you start interviewing your potential VA. Now this is very crucial that you do this and speak to each and every one of the VAs you wish to interview to see what kind of connection you have together. It could be great right off the bat! – OR – it could be ‘This person is definitely not for me!

Here is a list of questions that will help you to make an informed decision on whether they will be good for you and your business. Ask their opinions on certain subjects so you can see what direction they are going in. You may decide that their way of thinking is not for you and go your separate ways.

  1. Have you been doing this for very long?
  2. Do you have a specialty market that you service?
  3. Where is your home base? (time zones are important to know)
  4. Do you have a certain set of hours that you work? Or are you flexible?
  5. Do you work evenings and/or on the weekends?
  6. Do you have a set premium for rush projects?
  7. What do you consider a rush job?
  8. What is your normal completion time on projects I will send you?
  9. Are you a one-person company? Do you have an assistant or a safety net in case you are ill or your computer is down? Can I still be comfortable knowing that my work will still get done and without delays?
  10. Do you have references from your clientele and is it ok to contact them?
  11. As for contact, how quickly do you reply to emails or voicemails?
  12. How often do you invoice your clients? (once per month and is it beginning – middle – or end of month?)
  13. How would you expect to receive payment?
  14. Do we need to sign an agreement? If yes, what kind of conditions do you have? Is there a specific time-frame that requires us to work together? I.e. a minimum of 1 or 3 months before we can end our association together?)
  15. Do you have a preference as to how we will communicate? Whether by phone or by email etc.
  16. What type of work that you do for your clientele gives you the most satisfaction and pleasure?
  17. Would you charge me for time spent on emails or telephone calls?
  18. When would you be available and what hours would you be able to work for me?
  19. Do you invoice immediately or do you wait until the project is finished?
  20. What software/computer programs do you use? Are you familiar with AWeber and other Autoresponders
  21. Do you work with a confidentiality agreement?
  22. Will you be sub-contracting my work to another third party?
  23. Can you show me one of your contracts that are not completed yet (just to get an idea of how you work?)
  24. What type of   precautionary measures do you have in place should you require to contract my work out?
  25. How do you charge? Do you sell time blocks? Or is time billed in 15 minute increments per assignment etc.)

You might be thinking that it’s a lot of questions – but just remember, it’s your right to ask all of these questions and then some! Besides being beneficial for yourself, it’s also good for the potential VA as well.

Remember, it’s a 2 way street, just as much as you are interviewing the VA and deciding to see if you can work amicably together, they also get to see where you are coming from and what you expect from them so they can make an informed decision as well whether or not to work for you. It’s not absolutely necessary to ask each and every question listed here. After a few questions, you may already start to get a feel if they are a fit or not. It’s up to you to ask as many or as few questions as you think you need to, in order to get a good idea of who they are and how they conduct business.

In addition, you are not forced to make a decision immediately on the spot once you have had your free consultation with the potential VA. Just inform them that you will let them know within 24 hours – or whatever is a good time-frame for you to interview all the potential Virtual Assistants.

Naturally, if you’re talking to someone with whom you have a good rapport with and you like their personality and whose qualifications are just what you need, then go ahead and hire them! Just don’t feel that you have to choose somebody immediately, this is your business after all.

 

Robyn here! I’ve had a passion for technology for as long as I can remember. I bring a variety of skills and experience to any business, which have been gained with over 25 years of experience as an administrative and IT professional. Learn more…

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Finding the ideal Virtual Assistant for you and your business

Finding the ideal Virtual Assistant for you and your business

So you have finally realized that you definitely need some help in order to run your business as smoothly as possible – You’re getting more clientele, you’re finding that the tasks you used to love doing are too time-consuming, you’re staying much later at work or spending too much time at your computer at home trying to get things done.  You missed a great family gathering the other day because you just had to get a few things done, and before you knew it, the whole evening was gone and you haven’t even begun to get yourself ready to go out – UGHH!  This is not what you had in mind when you decided to start your own business!

Ok, now you are totally set on getting yourself a VA!

The first question you will probably be asking yourself is, how do I know which VA is right for me? Where do I even begin to look for a Virtual Assistant?  Here are a few very helpful hints that will assist you in finding the kind of VA that you can count on and feel comfortable with.

To start your search for that ‘perfect VA’, ask the people around you that you are working with on line – perhaps your clientele, or a forum or chat room, or especially a business coach who knows their way around the web.  Get some referrals and make yourself a list to keep notes so that once you contact them and have interviewed them, you can look over your list and decide yourself who would be best-suited to be your assistant for the kind of business that you are running.  Most of the VA’s out there will offer a free consultation – so you can set up a time/interview with them and see what they’re all about.  After speaking with each potential VA, you should have gathered enough information about her services and qualifications to see which one will be suitable for you and your business.

Another good place to check into VA’s is Virtual Assistant Forums – easy enough to do!  Just Google Virtual Assistant Forums and you will get a whole list of forums that you can search.  First start with a couple of the most popular forums and that will give you a good starting point.

  • VAnetworking.com – this site is a large forum that has plenty of Virtual Assistants. On one of the tabs, there’s a section where you can search by country – or for the USA you can search by state –  OR – you can even post an RFP (request for proposal) which will be posted on the forum for all potential VA’s to see!
  • VirtualAssistantForums.com – here is another huge forum that has loads of VA’s on it. You can browse for distinct qualifications www.virtualassistantforums.com/directory/ - and you also have the option of posting an RPF here as well.

In addition, there are also some very popular outsourcing sites, such as Elance and oDesk.  These are not the same as the forums we mentioned and maybe they should not be your first priority to look for a VA, especially for the newbies, BUT they can be helpful.  You would have to put up your profile on the 2 websites and post the jobs that you need help with.  You will be receiving bids from VA’s all over the world, giving you the opportunity to choose the ones that best suits your needs, dependent on their expertise and ratings.

Another place to check for VA’s is LINKEDIN.  Just do a search for Virtual Assistant, adding any specific qualifications, i.e. Webinar – Infusionsoft – Autoresponders etc.  There are plenty of choices out there.

The best part is that they will be categorized, pending how closely connected you are.

 

Robyn here! I’ve had a passion for technology for as long as I can remember. I bring a variety of skills and experience to any business, which have been gained with over 25 years of experience as an administrative and IT professional. Learn more…

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The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA

Great! You’ve hired yourself a VA – you’ve already started assigning  projects and tasks and everything is moving along just fine.

You might ask yourself, is your VA working out as planned? In order for you to build a good relationship with your VA, you need to be clear in what you need and you need to be sure that your tasks & projects are being carried out as you require.   For example, does your VA perform the daily and weekly tasks that you need done? Do you feel that you need to go more into depth explaining the jobs that need to be done – something that you didn’t expect to have to do?  Or maybe it’s going great and you think wow what took me so long to do this?

In the beginning, you could allot some time at the end of each week for a short discussion with your VA to see how everything is going?  Cover tasks/projects, what still needs to get done?

How long does it take to see if it works or doesn’t?

Start with a TRIAL RUN – When you hire a VA, the best thing to do is to set a timeline, at which time you can decide if you want to keep working together or not, a sort of test period. Ideally, this is also a good time to let your VA know all the good things he/she is doing for you and also gives you the chance to talk about the other side and discuss those things that you would like to change.

How long should the test period be? Well, that really is for you and your VA to decide.  Maybe you prefer one month, or 3 months or even 6 months if you think that is the amount of time you need to be able to make an informed decision. Just remember that sometimes it could be a while before you and your VA click, so you’ll probably need more than a month. After 3 months you will have a better picture of your working relationship and whether its working out or not, so that would be a good time-frame to follow.

One very important thing…  Do not micromanage! If you want your relationship with your VA to work out you cannot let yourself be involved with every little detail because what is the point of having a VA? You originally wanted to get a VA so you can concentrate on other aspects of your business, like acquiring more clients etc. With a professional VA and regular meetings micromanaging should not be necessary at all.

I think it’s important to remember that you hired someone with experience, a professional, someone who has done this type of work before.

How to not micromanage?

One thing that would be helpful is to give your VA a project to do, explaining what end result you need, rather than detailed steps on how you need him/her to do it.  Most VAs will ask you questions if things aren’t clear.

For example, instead of telling your VA; I need you to search for an image of a dog, a seeing-eye dog and a police dog working with their master etc. (silly example but you’ll get my point soon)

Instead you can say, I need you to search for images of ‘service’ dogs working and put it up on the blog and make it look nice. Your VA will know what to do, and if it’s not what you want, then you can use this chance to show him/her how you would like your blog to be done etc.

Another thing that helps is to create a system where your VA gives you a report on the job being worked on, whether it be every day or once a week so that you can feel comfortable knowing that things are getting done, this is where project management tools come in handy (see lasts week’s blog post) and it also helps with keeping up to date on completed tasks.

Something that is important to know – IF you and your new VA don’t click, that’s ok, just be fair and let them know what is and isn’t working. Things might change or you might have to part ways, however, by being honest with them they have a choice to make as well… Sometimes it comes down to both of you wanting different things.

If you want your business to succeed, then you need to have a VA (as well as other out-source help) that you can depend on - It is essential to have a VA that you can click with and feel comfortable with, it’s not easy, but after a few adjustments here and there, and some trial-and-error, you and your VA can end up having a great working relationship that feels right for the both of you.

Robyn here! I’ve had a passion for technology for as long as I can remember. I bring a variety of skills and experience to any business, which have been gained with over 25 years of experience as an administrative and IT professional. Learn more…

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